Eroni's Circus is making its first-ever appearance in Rosebud these September/October school holidays.
This show prides itself on presenting circus in its purest form. There are no confusing storylines, abstract themes or any other attempts to redefine circus. Instead, there is an unabashed embracement of tradition as they pledge to deliver "vintage circus charm to modern audiences."
It wouldn't be a traditional circus without animals and the two domestic animal acts at Eroni's are a joy. The performing Jack Russells, trained and presented by Kelly Eroni, have as much fun as their delighted audience. After executing each trick, the dogs sprint back to their stools with their tails wagging feverishly, knowing a treat is imminent.
The other animal act is the show's finale. Horses are the true essence of circus. They were featured in what is credited as the first modern circus, presented by English equestrian Philip Astley in 1768. They became overshadowed by exotic animals, but at Eroni's they are given top billing. The palominos are beautifully presented, with glistening coats and colourful headpieces. The act is a wonderful display of horsemanship, as trainer Tony Maynard constantly and calmly talks to his four-legged stars.
Another feature of Astley's inaugural circus was the clown. At a stage-show in Melbourne last year, a performer who appeared to be clowning around was instead listed in the program as a "physical comedian". Did the word "clown" become passé? Or, are clowns becoming taboo in family entertainment because of the rise of "scary clowns"? Eroni's certainly don't think so, as their clowns, Shorty and Joey, wear traditional bright colours, face paint and a red nose while partaking in harmless humour. The sight of clumsy clowns disobeying the orderly ringmistress is a proven formula that has stood the test of time.
Joey, is in fact, Joe Maynard, the youngest member of the family presenting the show. He also features in the second half with a skilful juggling act. Like most traditional circuses, it really is a family affair, and that brings a charm that's missing from the modern cirque productions. The family is complemented by other performers, Miguel the Magnificent (chair balancing and bounce juggling), Lara Caitlin (aerial lyra and contortion), Katrina the Aerial Butterfly and illusionist Jessie Daley. The latter was a 2016 finalist on Channel 9's Australia's Got Talent.
It's a hard-working crew. Lillian Leitzel, a famous aerialist with America's Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1915 to 1931, was known for being hot-tempered and demanding a private dressing tent and personal maid. At Eroni's, there is no room for prima donnas or divas. One minute, a performer will be starring in the middle of the ring. A few minutes later, they will be back in uniform serving patrons at the canteen or souvenir stand. Again, that's traditional circus.
The show lasts for nearly two hours, including an intermission. Compared to some other forms of live entertainment, the ticket prices are very reasonable ($20 for adults, $15 for children. Front row ringside is an extra $5 each).
The Rosebud season runs from September 28th until October 8th, 2017.